Friday, March 19, 2010

Another Meal of Ravioli

I have been on a ravioli kick lately. The Turkish Raviolis I had made a couple weeks ago inspired me to look up some older ravioli recipes that used to be favorites but that I hadn't used for a long time. Last Sunday, I made sweet potato raviolis from this Marcella Hazan cookbook

The filling consisted of roasted sweet potatoes, grated parmigiano-reggiano, chopped prosciutto, nutmeg and crushed amarreti cookies and egg. The sauce was caramelized butter with fried sage and more parmigiano-reggiano.

The wine was a 2005 Carbenet Sauvignon from Brander Vineyard in the Santa Ynez Valley. We bought the wine there during a visit in 2006, which we remember fondly because Huxley Beagle accompanied us, lying strategically in the sun while we picnicked at the Vineyard.

For dessert, we had an olive oil cake, made from a recipe in the same cookbook and paired with some nice Madeira.

I wonder what my next ravioli project is going to be...

My First Serged Garment!

I know I said two posts ago that I wasn't going to make another one of this draped top. However, I had just gotten a serger (my mother-in-law, who is also a fantastic quilter, gave me hers) and was just raving to make something with it. I wanted my first serged garment to work out with a minimum of fussing, so I decided to go with a pattern that I had used before that I knew would fit and chose the draped top pattern. I was pretty happy with the original version that I had made, but after wearing it a couple of times, I decided that it could have been cut a little smaller and, in particular, the the back neckline could be reduced down one size for a better fit. For my second attempt, I also had much nicer fabric: a nylon lycra knit which felt nicer against the skin and also draped much better. I moved the center back fold line about half an inch closer to the side seam and was going to leave the front piece alone but then discovered that this new fabric was narrower than the 60 inches I had assumed it to be and so, to make all the pattern pieces fit, I also moved the center front fold line slightly less than half an inch closer to the side seam. I reduced all my 5/8 inch seam allowances to 1/4 inch because the serger was going to trim everything down to 1/4 inches anyway. Viola! Here is my first serged garment:

The nice draping is much easier to see in this fabric. It was a snap incorporating clear elastic when I sewed the shoulder seams, using the feed function on the serger foot. All the nicely finished edges made me very happy. Here is a view of the serged inside of the garment:

Wow! All I have to do now is figure out how to get professional-looking labels for my clothes and I will be all set! I've been making them by using the letter embroidery function on my sewing machine to sew the words "HuxleyWuxley" onto wide ribbon but they look sort of home-made. If you sew and put labels on your clothes, please leave a comment letting me know how you get your labels made.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Moorish Dinner

Our vacation in Andalusia, Spain last November was a culinary revelation of sorts. The flavors of Southern Spain, which included Moorish-influenced cuisine, were unique, and we also took the opportunity to visit bodegas in Jerez, Sanlúcar, and Montilla to figure out the differences between the different kinds of sherries. Here are some of the meals we had:

Marinated anchovies and confitted tuna in Seville

Andalusian fried food (shrimp wrapped in eggplant and typical Andalucian croquettes), in Seville

Potatoes with chorizo & eggs, and clams in Seville

Pickled roe, cuttlefish meatballs, shrimp tortilla, fried sea anemone(! - I didn't know you could eat these things) and manzanilla in Sanlúcar

White gazpacho and a salt-cod-and-orange salad, in Cordoba

A plate of locally cured ham and a local rosado in the mountain town of Trevelez

An updated interpretation of morcilla and beans, at a somewhat fancy restaurant in Granada

Local mountain trout, in Ronda at a restaurant perched on the edge of a breath-taking gorge

Anyway, when we got home, I was obsessed with trying to recreate the flavors we had tasted and came across these two cookbooks, which are perfect ambassadors for this type of cuisine

I have already made many delicious meals from these two books, some of which almost perfectly recaptured a few of the most memorable dishes we had, notably the fried marinated dogfish, but unfortunately I have no pictures of these past meals to share. Instead, this post is about a dish I made over the past weekend that grew out of my current interest in Moorish-inspired cuisine and my obsession with the recipes in these two cookbooks. Here it is, Turkish lamb ravioli from the Casa Moro cookbook. (Huxley Beagle was VERY interested in the ground lamb. He kept trying to get a good sniff (and a bite) while I was assembling the raviolis. Fortunately, he's too short to reach!)

Turkish ravioli, from home-made dough stuffed with lamb flavored with allspice, mint and oregano, boiled in chicken broth spiked with cinnamon and cumin, and then served soaked in the broth, garlic-scented yoghurt and caramelized butter. Sides are roasted beets and sauteed beet greens. The wine is a 2006 Lazy Creek Gewurztraminer from the Anderson Valley, California. For dessert, we had a plum galette.

It was delicious! The flavors in the ravioli came together so well - the lamb, the spices, the herbs, the yoghurt, the caramelized butter and the savory broth. It was so good that there was nothing left over for Huxley Beagle to sample, sadly. I might make this again for a dinner party I am considering having, although making ravioli from scratch always tires me out so I'd have to consider carefully before committing to making enough ravioli for 12 people...

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Draped top 118B, March 2010 Burdastyle magazine

When the latest issue of Burdastyle Magazine arrived, this top caught my eye:

I like such tunic-y styles, although Dave hates them on me. He prefers me in clothes that are more fitted, but I only listen to him some of the time. I was in any case so eager to start working on the top that I went to look for fabric as soon as I could. I thought a nice slinky sort of drapey fabric would look great in that style. So last Saturday, I took the dog for a nice long walk to our neighborhood fabric store 10 blocks away, where I knew they had a bamboo section with nice slinky. When we got there, there were all these people and a terrier standing mournfully outside the store - there had been a power outage and the store was blanketed in darkness! Having walked all the way there and being anxious to procure some fabric, I took up their offer of a flashlight and tied up Huxley Beagle to the railings and descended into the darkness. A nice young man helpfully held up the flashlight while I tried to make my fabric choices but in the end I gave up. I couldn't see enough of the color and texture to be sure what I was getting, so I told them I would just come back next week.

But I also had a backup plan, you see, which was to hit the other neighborhood fabric store on the way home. What a great neighborhood I live in, abounding with fabric stores within walking distance of my house! (Now, if only they were open on Sundays... but one should just be grateful for what one has, right?) So we went to Darlene's, and I tied up Huxley Beagle at the door and then asked the nice man minding the store if that was OK and he said I should bring him in! What a great day for Huxley Beagle - he loves to follow his human owners wherever they go, although he really wishes it was the meat market he was allowed into, not the fabric store!

They didn't have exactly what I was looking for, which was a nice quality slinky made from natural fibers, but I settled for a drapey slinky in polyester. I figure the tunic was so loose there wouldn't be a breathing problem even if the top was made out of polyester. Now the pattern called for 1 and 3/4 yards of a 60-inch wide fabric and they only had 1 yard left but I bought it anyway, thinking that I would use it for something else if it wasn't enough for the top.

When I laid out the pattern pieces, they just fit on that 1 yard. I had to piece the drawstring tie from two pieces, but that was alright! If I had bought the prescribed 1 and 3/4 yards, I would have had too much fabric left over and there won't have been enough of it to do much with anyway! So it worked out great.

Here is the finished top:

The picture on the right has been adjusted so that you can see the draping on the fabric. It was a really easy top to assemble, or would have been really easy if the fabric wasn't so darn slippery to work with! I really didn't do my usual precise job on the gathered darts but the fabric and style was rather forgiving, luckily. I stabilized the gathered darts as well as the shoulder seams with clear elastic. What a great invention clear elastic is, and to think I didn't use to know what it was! Now I have a great big roll bought for a great price from Cleaner's Supply. (If you sew, check out this place - the best place ever to buy Gütermann thread, zippers, buttons, etc at a great price, and they deliver fast!)

I don't think I'll sew this top again - one is enough, as it is a distinctive style. I haven't worn it yet, still waiting for warmer weather, which is hopefully upon us soon in foggy and rainy San Francisco!